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Welcome to My Learning Conservatory

By Angela Bunyi on September 14, 2009
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8



So it's a new school, new grade, and new classroom for me this year. I think it's time to have a virtual open house! For good measure, I am also adding in photos with some captions and two downloads of things that you see on my walls. 


FYI: The video was made with a PC, but I work in a Mac school. I plan on sharing how to use both for green screen and movie making this year.

Classroom Photos


In this section of the room, students store their personal reading selections. The closet space allows us to store hands-on materials and resources neatly without the hassle of a cluttered classroom.


I like having our couch here because we do group work a lot in our classroom, and this makes our group areas more defined. It's also nice to see it when you first walk into the room. It gives the impression of caring about how our room looks.


This is our meeting area. I prefer teaching most of my lessons here for a couple of reasons. Mainly, brain research supports that lessons should not last more than 1520 minutes and then students need to be up doing something else. Sitting in the meeting area allows me to physically see when students are no longer engaged in the lesson. The telltale signs are squirming, rocking, and movement. It's much harder to see this while sitting at a desk.




decoding board





You really have to read Tanny McGregor's book, Comprehension Connections. It's a great, easy read that ties comprehension strategies to tangible items for a lesson. 




I took Beth's book bin labels and changed the icons to photos instead. I have 88 labels in all. 

CAFE Standards

As promised in the comments last week, I'm providing a printed example of what might go under the CAFE headings on a target board.

Well, I hope you all have a fantastic week! Come back again shortly to view a series of videos I made on various components of Readers Workshop (conferences, guided reading, mini-lessons, etc.).

Angela Bunyi

Comments (38)

Hey Patricia,

Thanks! You can find the leaf canopy "thing" at one of the most awesome store in the world. IKEA (I am a loyal fan- including a pilgrimage to the original one in Sweden). They were less than 10 dollars each and served their time in my son's room first.

www.ikea.com if you don't have one near you.



Your room is absolutely gorgeous. As a first year teacher, it is nice to see that the dreams of my college professors can come true in a classroom. I especially love the large leaf-type coverings atop your bookcase. Where did you acquire them?

Thank you for the inspiration!

Best Regards, Patricia

Hello Nancy,

I just created my new overview for the year this past weekend (all subjects included). I will get that up and posted with my next post.

Meanwhile, I'll get it posted to the website by this weekend.

Best to you,


Sorry about the spelling in the previous note. Sometimes my fingers get ahead of the brain!!!

Hi, I would love to view the document you have that is called 'Writers Workshop - year in review" but the link doesn't seem to work. You are an insipartion! Nancy

The CAFE sheet you were referring to can now be found under the download section. :)


Hello Christan,

Sorry for the late reply. I have been stuck in bed very sick for the past two days. To answer your questions on old links, I was able to find posters for the headings of the CAFE board (not the ones you see in my video). You can find that on www.mrsbunyi.com under downloads. I can't seem to find my CAFE standards written on one sheet online, but I do have copies in my possession. Once I am feeling up to snuff, I will try to get them retyped and posted here.

And, to answer your question on using the CAFE board this year. Working in an alternative setting means we have other things in our schedule to work around that make it hard to have multiple reading blocks. However, what I mention in our posted video on R.W. sums up how it is being used this year.

Hope that helps!



You are such an inspiration! I love your approach to teaching. Your classroom looks like such an inviting and relaxing place.

Thank you for posting resources for teachers. I have followed your postings about the CAFE board/standards, and noticed references to your old website for some of these items. Is it possible to obtain these downloads online?

Also, I believe you said that you're no longer using your CAFE board. Have you replaced it with something else? I'd love to hear your latest ideas.

By the way-I teach 5th grade English/Language Arts (Reading & Language Development) in Louisiana. I have 3 sets of students (approximately 29 students/class). I moved up from 4th grade ELA with 2 classes of approximately 20-22 students. I still have quite a bit of time with my students, so I'd like to use it wisely! :)

Thanks for your help.

Regards, Christan



I did upload one version of the CAFE headings (that I don't use in my classroom) onto the site. I will send you the CAFE standards by email and also send this all to our editor shortly. Hopefully the photos and printables can be grouped together, making it easier for visitors to take it and go!




Thanks for answering my e-mail. It has been a transition year for me as well, I am moving into a NEW home this coming weekend. So, it has been a busy start to the new year in the classroom and my home.

I understand losing information on older computers, I am on my fourth computer.

I am actually looking for both, the headings and the standards. Not sure about your old website, as I have not been there but I have been been to your newer website. I will go to the new website to look for the CAFE menu headings.

Thanks for your response and sorry for my late response.

I look forward to hearing back from you about the standards. Thanks for all the inspiring ideas, you're truly an inspiration to many!

Melissa mwicklund@n-winn.k12.ia.us


It came with the room. It is great, but on the other hand, the top two rows are not student friendly. That is why I have very little up there. Picture frames, a picture book on display. I do like it though, just can't tell you where it came from. :(

Hope your school year is going great!




The bigger question was how I survived in such tiny quarters. Our room could have been in an IKEA catalog. We used every ounce of space. The odd thing is that I have adjusted so much that today one of my students, Regan, actually used it for the entire morning. Portable filing bags are a must for me and you have to have a place for everything. The desk drawers are not the best place to throw things, so when you have a filing system it keeps everything nice and tidy. My desk is always cleared off. All the time!

Best, Angela


Sorry, it seems my comment notification was off as I didn't receive a notice of your posting (or others!).

Regarding video suggestions on reader's workshop, Sharon Taberski has a set that is great. If you have any literacy coaches around, they may have it.

Otherwise, you are free to use the one I have that is a broad overview found on the resource page. It is about 5 minutes long and shows our typical day/layout.

Best to you,

Angela Bunyi

Hi Angela, It looks like you have made the adjustment and your new room looks beautiful. I was wondering where you got the tall bookshelf that has books on the other side? I believe it is the one with authors arranged according to their last name. I am tight for room and that type would work perfect. Thanks so much for sharing. Diann

Hi Angela, I am in love with your classroom! You have really been an inspiration!

Not sure if anyone has asked this yet, but how in the world do you survive without a teacher desk? I love the idea, and I would like to try it!! I'd love to hear any feedback you can give!

I love your work! You have inspired me further. I am presenting on Reader's Workshop on Friday, Oct 16. Are there any videos you can recommend for me to show the participants?

Hello Beth,

Great question. Assessment was/is something I think about carefully. Formally, the school I was at expected more traditional grades/assessments. Before that and now at my current school, a balanced literacy approach was/is accepted. I'll admit that it does make grading much easier (and authentic!), but I'll share my quick tip on easing stress for you and your parents. Balance in a little of both. One "alternative" grade and one "traditional". This might mean you'll use one grade through a rubric and the other can be on a certain feature, such as identifying the plot of a story.

I also wrote a post about this last year. It's about focusing your time on assessments that will help YOU, more than worrying about grades that will be sent home:


Hope that helps...


This year one of my co-workers and I began Reader's Workshop and Writer's Workshop in our third grade classes. We are feeling a liitle overwhelmed. We are each presenting a 10 minute mini-lesson, allowing students to read for 40 minutes, and then have them make oral or written responses for about 10 minutes. During their 40 minutes read time we are calling students to conference with. Parents are used to traditional grades. How do you grade in Reader's Workshop? Help!

Hello Melissa,

That all sounds great. I may or may not be able to help you, depending on what you need. Are you looking for the overall title posters (e.g. one that says comprehension, the next says accuracy) or are you looking for my standards that I usually place under the CAFE menu?

If you are looking for the main heading posters, unfortunately I have misplaced them on an older computer. Luckily it is not too hard to recreate those. I'll remove the bad link, as I can see it still shows it on the site (moving schools is tough!).

If you are looking for my previous 4th grade CAFE menu standards on an easy to read page, I have that on another computer not available at this time (we are on our 2 week break). If you give me your email, I'll send that to you by Friday. Regardless, I'll get a working link for the site by this weekend.

Best of luck to you. Sorry for the late reply! Write back if you have any questions. I'll be better with responding next time around. :)


Hello! My student teacher and myself are very impressed with your classroom website and are going to be starting the Daily 5 or the CAFE Menu soon. We really like the way that you have it set up in your classroom. I was wondering if we could get the posters for Comprehension, Fluency...etc? I can't seem to get them to come up on your website.

Thanks, I really appreciate it! Melissa

Hey Naomi!

Great question, but more importantly, great to hear from you! I totally admire your teaching philosophy and style found through the blog last year. You have such a caring, nurturing vibe to you. :)

Classroom management was probably the number one question I received when we had visitors last year. "How do you get them to be so good and on task?" Formally, I would say that I wasn't quite sure, but now I realize that there are three methods that really help.

1) I treat, talk, and respond to students the way I would my son. That includes NOT working on an extrinsic motivating sort of program. I just don't like the whole idea of holding a carrot in front of kids to propel them forward on being good. I call this management based on trust, and I actually did write a post on this last year. It's pretty detailed. It has been turned into an article now and can be accessed here:


2. I do have a smidge case of OCD like tendencies, and that means routines are rather important in our room. I don't go for the whole Harry Wong type of practicing procedures, but we do cement those in and the beginning of the year.

3. I honestly believe our classroom environment plays a major role for the general good vibes in the classroom. Often an office worker will busily walk in and then stop in their tracks and say, "Woah, it's so calming in here." The lighting, the furniture, the photos, and the plants make it FEEL calming, resulting in calmer kids.

With that said, I can honestly say that I have never had behavior concerns...including teaching in an inner-city middle school in Nashville. I think the article link I posted would work for you and your style of teaching. :)

And if you made it this far with my short novel, I'd love to see some photos of Soraya. I am sure she is just gorgeous!!!



You are such an inspiration.

I would love to hear how you work with those children that are a challenge behaviorally. It is something that we al have to deal with as we deal with classroom management. Your classroom is so beautiful and comfortable. At the start of the year, I ask my students what we need to do to maintain a safe and warm learning environment. What are some of your strategies? Will this be something you might address in a future blog? ....... Hope to visit someday soon...until then these virtual visits will have to do:-) Soraya is growing up so fast, I can barely keep up.


Hello Holly,

I now have two document cameras in the room, including an Elmo, so it has been a while, but I primarily used it for demonstrations. So, if I was going to demonstrate a science experiment, I would film it first and then plug it in to the television. When you plug in the cords, you'll hear it beep. Just hit the play button and it will show your recording full screen with audio. This is especially useful if you have students that are absent that day. It also avoids the, "I can't see it," complaints students will say when completing a demonstration.

Hope that helps!


Angela, I am grateful for your willingness to share with other teachers. I watched one of your videos about using a flip camera, instead of purchasing a document camera. Recently, I was given a flip camera to use in my classroom. How do I use it as a document camera? When I plug it into the computer using the USB cable, the camera turns off. How do I keep it on and use it as a document camera?

Thanks, Holly

Hey Danielle,

I am actually uploading new download material right now to the server. Our amazing editor and tech. crew should have this new material up shortly.

And thank you for sharing a positive comment on the blog. I appreciate it!



Hi Angela! I’m with you on the elimination of pre-made posters! Your room is sooo wonderful! Teacher made charts and charts that the students create are so much more meaningful than the store bought ones!! Thanks for sharing so much of what you do with us! There are so many great ideas here!!!! (Your downloads are great resources!) Thank you!!!


Thanks! I am always thankful that others are kind enough to take the second to tell someone "way to go". Teachers really are the best people around. I bet you are a phenomenal teacher. Good luck to you this year, and I hope I have more to share with you this year. :)



Your creativity is inspiring!! I am glad to see so much fun and creativity in the intermediate grades! Your pictures and ideas have given me a LOT to think about! Thanks! Laura

Hello Pattie,

The newsletter is made with Mac's Pages program. I formally spent a lot of time putting newsletters together, but now I can now create and finish a newsletter during one planning period. It even allows you to save it directly to our website with one click (you don't have to open up iWeb)! I love it.

Regarding long-term projects, I recently borrowed an economic project from a teaching neighbor, our state project plans from Heather Renz in Oregon, our government unit from Scholastic (Easy Simulations), etc. It DOES take a lot of work, but I am hoping it will be easier next year.

And hopefully I will have more to share regarding video conferences shortly. I missed a meeting on Chimerica ( due to parent conferences) which is an extensive agreement to partner up and conference with classes in China. Very exciting stuff!



Your room is so inviting for learning. It sounds like the environment is extremely rich to engage your students at so many levels. I am very impressed with your newsletter. I would love to see how you develop the projects you are going to work on that extend the curriculum for your students over the course of the year. I think the process of that for teachers is difficult. The video conferencing you posted was terrific. Pat Gill


Great to hear. Happy to hear your PD was a success, on your own and for sharing with your colleagues!

I will have to post my new photos shortly of the room. It looks SOOOOOOOO much better with the tables. I am in love. :)



Hi Angela, Yes, I did go see the Sisters this summer, and it was THE BEST two days of PD I have had in a very long time. I was so enthusiastic about the CAFE, that I told a colleague...she started it with me, and now, as you know how teachers are, almost my entire staff are on board. It is AWESOME!!! What a powerful, yet simple to integrate, way of explicitly teaching, tracking, and assessing how students read. I love it! We had our Parent Curriculum Night (Meet the Teacher) this week, and the parents were equally impressed!

By the way, great memory. I wouldn't have expected you to remember...you get so many people emailing/blogging with you. Thanks!

I noticed you are getting tables. I had tables and no desks for the last few years in my primary class, but the classroom I took over this year has only desks. No budget to move to tables. With the 27 kids (down from last year!) I have, I wish I did have tables. What a more collaborative atmosphere they create!

Love this website!! Thanks so much to you and Beth for all your hard work, and willingness to share! I continue to be an avid reader...and a big fan! Talk soon! Anna

Hey Anna!

It's nice to recognize a returning reader. Thanks for the compliments!

Now if my memory serves me right, you were going to see the Sisters in the states during the summer. I hope you enjoyed it (If I didn't get you confused with another Canadian reader).

Best to you,


Hi Angela, Your new room looks absolutely lovely! I have used inspirations from your room in my own this year, now that I am back in Grade 4 and 5. I am SO glad you have continued to blog...I look forward to reading them! Anna (from Toronto)

Thanks Lorraine! My principal just granted funding for our room to have circular tables instead of the student desks. I can not wait! I think it will make our room look even cozier.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend.


I enjoyed your classroom tour very much. I like seeing the students engaged in learning, laying on mats, sitting in comfortable chairs, surrounded by their own work. I can imagine that your students look forward to spending time together in your classroom.

Thanks Stacy! I can't wait to share. :)

~ Angela

Your room looks wonderful! You are such an inspiration and I can't wait to see the next set of videos.

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